Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America, and was awarded 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Razorbacks blow 13-point lead, lose to Texas A&M at SEC Tournament
Arkansas guard Anthony Black, left, is fouled by Texas A&M forward Andersson Garcia, right, while shooting during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Friday, March 10, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.(AP Photo/John Amis)
Arkansas saw another double-digit lead disappear in a loss to Texas A&M on Friday.
The Razorbacks led the Aggies by as many as 13 points, but fell 67-61 in the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. The Aggies (24-8) advanced to play in the semifinal round Saturday against either Kentucky or Vanderbilt.
The Razorbacks were eliminated from the conference tournament by the Aggies for the second year in a row. Texas A&M won 82-64 in the semifinals last year in Tampa, Fla.
Arkansas (20-13) fell to 1-2 this season against the Aggies, the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The Razorbacks also blew a 12-point lead in their 62-56 loss at Texas A&M on Feb. 15.
"That's kind of what we've been doing all year," freshman guard Anthony Black said. "The last time we played them, did the same thing.
"We've got to stop doing that."
Arkansas was outscored 42-23 in the second half Friday and shot 30% from the field after halftime. The Razorbacks' starting guards shot 3 of 18 from the field in the second half.
Arkansas was also out-rebounded 43-26 in the loss.
"The biggest theme heading into the game was rebounding the basketball," Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said. "We did not rebound the ball."
The Razorbacks led 40-27 with 18:27 remaining after a dunk by forward Makhi Mitchell, who had 15 points and six rebounds.
But Texas A&M forward Henry Coleman sparked the comeback by scoring nine of the Aggies’ first 11 points of the second half.
Coleman’s layup with 16:20 to play kicked off a 15-3 run capped by a Dexter Dennis layup that gave Texas A&M a 46-45 lead with 10:26 left. After five lead changes in a span of 2:44, the Aggies grabbed the lead for good on a jumper by forward Julius Marble.
"The offense was a result of our defense," Coleman said. "I thought our defense was locked in in the second half, guys were playing in passing lanes, willing to take charges, stay in the drive – doing stuff that Texas A&M is known for and that we practice every day."
A key sequence for Texas A&M came with 4:05 remaining when guard Wade Taylor recorded a steal and added a layup in transition to put the Aggies ahead 58-53. Texas A&M led by as many as eight points.
Taylor, the Aggies’ leading scorer, finished with 18 points on 6 of 17 from the field, and Coleman added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Taylor had 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting prior to halftime.
The Razorbacks controlled play essentially from start to finish in the first half and built up a 38-25 lead at halftime.
Freshman wing Jordan Walsh gave Arkansas the 13-point edge with a banked-in three-pointer in front of the Aggies’ bench just before the buzzer. It was the final score in a 9-2 Razorbacks run to end the first half.
Prior to Walsh’s three Arkansas’ biggest lead was 29-17 following a 5-point possession with 4:44 left in the half.
Black knocked down a three from the top of the key, and while the ball was in flight, Coleman tagged Mitchell with a hard box out. After a review, officials assessed Coleman with a Flagrant 1 foul — the Aggies’ second of the half.
"It's not the first time it's happened in a second half," Musselman added. "We're young. I mean, halftime speech has been the same for the last eight years. Adjustment has been the same. We're just a young team.
"Winning and closing games, it's not easy for teams. Tonight was an example of that again for us."
Black recorded 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists for the Razorbacks, and Walsh had 7 points. Nick Smith scored 16 points on 6 of 20 from the field to lead Arkansas.
Dennis and guard Tyrece Radford each had 11 points for Texas A&M.
Arkansas will return to Fayetteville and await its NCAA Tournament fate, which will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m.
"As a competitor, I think you have to let this game sink in before we turn the page," Musselman said. "I'm not really going to start thinking about the tournament until we know who we play and where we play.
"I'm going to look into this game and see how we can get better."
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